Photo Flash: WCP Presents BEYOND THERAPY

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Opening its 2011 season and its 80th birthday year, Westport Country Playhouse will stage comic master Christopher Durang's "Beyond Therapy," directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director through May 14. The wickedly funny comedy looks at the days and nights of the young and single.

After a disastrous first date, Bruce and Prudence seek solace in therapy---despite both their therapists being stark raving mad. And that's only the beginning of their problems. In Durang's topsy-turvy world, life is a potent cocktail of sexual mix-ups, relationship neuroses, and a serious lack of impulse control. The play contains adult content and language.

"'Beyond Therapy' is not only fiercely funny but also sweet and goofy, in the manner of screwball film comedies from the '30s," said Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. "However, there is nothing old-fashioned about it. Durang's off-kilter characters and wise comic writing are as surprising and contemporary as theater can be."

"I think Christopher Durang's plays are among the truly enduring works of American stage comedy," said David Kennedy, who will direct. "And like all the greats, though his efforts owe a debt to his influences, they are entirely, uniquely his own. That's what's so remarkable, particularly about ‘Beyond Therapy.' While in its way it's a sweet romantic comedy, it's infused with a smart, high-octane sense of absurdism that is pure Durang, the thing that he does better than anybody. This is a comedy of great feeling and energy, an actor or a director's dream."

The cast includes Trent Dawson (Broadway's "The Herbal Bed") as Stuart; Nick Gehlfuss (TV's "Army Wives" and "The Good Wife") as Andrew; Jeremy Peter Johnson (Westport Country Playhouse's "She Loves Me") as Bruce; Nicole Lowrance (Westport Country Playhouse's "David Copperfield," Broadway's "Dividing the Estate") as Prudence; Kathleen McNenny (Westport Country Playhouse's "The Good German, Broadway's "Coram Boy," "The Constant Wife") as Charlotte; and Stephen Wallem (Thor on Showtime's "Nurse Jackie") as Bob.

Playwright Christopher Durang has had plays on and off-Broadway including "A History of the American Film" (Tony Award nomination), "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You" (Obie Award), "Beyond Therapy," "Baby with the Bathwater," "The Marriage of Bette and Boo" (Obie Award, Dramatists Guild Hull Warriner Award), "Laughing Wild," "Betty's Summer Vacation" (Obie Award), "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge," "Miss Witherspoon" (2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist) and "Adrift in Macao" (book/lyrics Durang, music by Peter Melnick). His latest play "Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love" premiered at The Public Theater in 2009. In recent years, Durang won the Harvard Arts Medal, the Sidney Kingsley Playwriting Award and was the 2008 honoree at the William Inge Festival. Durang has acted in movies ("Butcher's Wife," "Housesitter," "Mr. North," "The Secret of My Success") and in his own plays. With Marsha Norman, he's been co-chair of the Playwriting Program at Juilliard School since 1994. He's a member of the Dramatists Guild Council. www.christopherdurang.com

Director David Kennedy helmed Westport Country Playhouse's "Dinner with Friends" last season. Kennedy joined The Playhouse in March 2009 as associate artistic director. He previously served as associate artistic director at Dallas Theater Center from 2004 to 2008, where his directing credits included "The Misanthrope," "Glengarry Glen Ross," "I Am My Own Wife," "The Violet Hour" and "Thom Pain (based on nothing)." He has also staged productions at the Wilma Theater, Clarence Brown Theatre Company, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, 78th Street Theatre Lab, Prospect Theater Company and Kitchen Dog Theater, among others. He is a founding artistic director of The Lunar Society in Toronto and Milkman Theatre Group in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was artistic director of The Summer Cabaret in New Haven. Kennedy is a former Phil Killian Fellow at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a Drama League Directing Fellow, and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

The design and production team includes Lee Savage (Westport Country Playhouse's "Dinner with Friends," Connecticut Critics Circle Award for "The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow"), scenic design; Jennifer Caprio (Broadway's "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), costume design; Jeff Croiter (Broadway's "The Pee-Wee Herman Show," "Next Fall," "Kiki and Herb"), lighting design; John Gromada (Westport Country Playhouse's "Happy Days," "Of Mice and Men"; Broadway's "Rabbit Hole," "12 Angry Men"; Drama Desk and Obie awards), sound design; Matthew Melchoirre, stage manager; Winnie Y. Lok, assistant stage manager; and Janet Foster, C.S.A., casting.
2011 season sponsor is KPMG; 2011 media sponsors are Moffly Media and WSHU Public Radio Group. Board of trustees production sponsors are Jill and Alex Dimitrief.

Westport Country Playhouse's five-play 2011 season continues with "The Circle," the scintillating comedy of manners, written by W. Somerset Maugham and directed by Nicholas Martin, June 7 - June 25; "Lips Together, Teeth Apart," a perceptive comedy about people struggling against their limitations, written by Terrence McNally and directed by Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director, July 12 - July 30; "Suddenly Last Summer," the poetic, sensual and evocative drama, written by Tennessee Williams and directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, August 23 - September 10; and "Twelfth Night, or What You Will," the beguiling comedy/romance, written by William Shakespeare and directed by Mark Lamos, October 11 - November 5.

Subscriptions to all five plays are available for preferred seating and discounts up to 45% off single ticket pricing. Students and educators are eligible for 50% discounts. Groups of 10 or more save up to 30%. For group sales information call (203) 227-5137, x120.

For more information or tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org. Stay connected to The Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse) or get an insider's peek on The Playhouse Blog (www.playhouseblog.org).

For more information or tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org. Stay connected to The Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse) or get an insider's peek on The Playhouse Blog (www.playhouseblog.org).

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